CCTV - a security success?


Questions have been raised as to whether the University has improved its failing CCTV system.

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Image by Annie Watson

By Emily Hewat

A recent Freedom of Information request has revealed that the number of CCTV cameras across campus at the University of York has declined by 155 since January 2019, with there now being 210 cameras on Heslington West and 178 on Heslington East.

This reduction in number may not necessarily mean a reduction in quality as Nouse reported in January 2019 that 111 out of the 543 CCTV cameras on campus were not functional due to an updated security system yet had been left in place “as a deterrent in an attempt to reduce criminal activity.” If a fifth of CCTV cameras on campus last year were non-functional, it raises questions about whether any improvement has been made.

In 2019, the University spent £97,964.30 on CCTV cameras on campus which is a staggering amount compared to previous years - £1,363.93 was spent in 2017 and £0,00 was spent in 2018. These figures do suggest that the University took action to improve security across campus and yet bike thefts remain a prominent issue for students.

Students have expressed their frustration for years over the number of bike thefts that take place on campus on a weekly basis. Bikes have been known to be taken from inside the locked bike sheds provided on campus and several have no CCTV surrounding them. If students want to assure their bike remains safe on campus, they will have to invest in high quality, and potentially expensive, bike locks.

Last year there were calls for direct action to be taken to stop the constant bike thefts and yet it fell to the ‘Yorkmemes’ page to attempt to catch the culprits using controversial methods.

Nouse approached the University for comment and they stated that:

“An upgrade of the University’s CCTV system, including the installation of cameras in cycle sheds, is on-going, but the work has been delayed by the pandemic. The IndigoVision computer software to manage the cameras within the security centre has been upgraded."

"While the University cannot guarantee the safety of bicycles, we provide advice on how to help keep bicycles safe and offer a number of security options including D-lock’s at a reduced rate:"